When you download and install an app on your Android phone or tablet a splash screen will show you the different permissions the app requires. Some apps need to be able to detect your location, others look at your contact list, and some even require the ability to send SMS messages. But once the apps are installed it’s not always easy to remember which apps are using which services.
LBE Privacy Guard lets you know. When you install the app it will automatically alert you when an app is requesting certain permissions. Some are obvious — if you fire up Yelp, of course it’s going to look for your location in order to find nearby restaurants and other businesses. But I don’t always think about my internet radio app requiring location information — but it does, because it can show me local radio stations.
There’s only one catch: LBE Privacy Guard only works on Android phones that have been rooted.
LBE sorts your apps into monitored apps, trusted apps, and system components. System components include the apps that come with Android, such as Google Maps or Gmail. You can move any app you’ve installed yourself from monitored to trusted by checking a box so that you don’t have to see annoying pop-ups for apps that you trust.
The LBE home screen also shows a number of categories so that you can see which apps require which permissions. For instance, the Expenses Manager shows all apps that can send SMS. Those apps could cost you money if you don’t have an unlimited plan. Apps that can access your network data show up in the Internet Access Manager, while the Location Access Manager shows apps that can… identify your location. You probably figured that one out all for yourself.
Not only does LBE show you when an app is requesting permission — but it can also let you reject that request. So you can either uninstall apps you’re not comfortable with after receiving alerts, or simply reject permission requests from time to time to protect your privacy or save your network bandwidth.
The app also keeps a log so you can see which apps have requested permissions today, this week, or for all time.